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Before the Juneau Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit allowing another 12-suite hotel near the Juneau side of the Douglas Bridge, it decided the finished product would be called a hotel.
Voting late Tuesday night, the commission also required that the developer, Juneau Hotel Properties, provide the number of parking spaces the city would require of a motel.
Commissioner Marshal Kendziorek, however, said the project is designed like an apartment building.
He suggested the commission vote on whether the project would be a hotel, and he voted against that definition. Kendziorek said an existing 12-suite hotel near the proposed project's West Ninth Street site is furnished apartments. The suites have kitchens and other apartment amenities, he said.
Juneau Hotel Properties, managed by Donald Madsen, once owned but no longer owns the existing hotel in the area. But with Tuesday's commission vote, he now has approval to put up three similar buildings in the same area, according to community development staff reports.
What the suites are called is especially important in the waterfront commercial zone where the buildings will go, planner Greg Chaney told commissioners.
"If you feel like it's an apartment building, it's not allowed," he said as commissioners considered the latest proposal.
The existing Greatland Hotel at 1255 W. Ninth St. received its conditional-use permit in 1999.
Community Development Director Dale Pernula said the use there doesn't easily fit the definition of what a hotel or what an apartment building should be.
"Sometimes during the summer, it operates like a hotel," he said. "During the legislative session it functions as apartments."
Commission Chairman Johan Dybdahl said that when a capital move was feared, people said this was just the sort of housing Juneau needed, where people could stay for a long or short time.
Commissioner Peggy McConnochie asked if the project was "a duck or a goose." She said the suites don't follow the city rules of apartments, in which residents would have to give notice at least 30 days before leaving. And they don't fit with the night-to-night nature of hotels.
"I really like the short-stay concept," she said.
It works for people who come to Juneau for the legislative session, and it works for somebody who comes by boat and wants to spend time in the city, she said.
The real issue, Commissioner Mike Bavard said, is parking. The three previous hotel approvals each required only three parking spaces for 12 suites.
Maria Gladziszewski, the only commissioner who joined Kendziorek in opposing the hotel definition, made the next motion, to require at least 12 parking spaces for the hotel. The 12 spaces are the minimum that would be require for a motel.
Only Kendziorek voted against it, saying he was still certain the suites were apartments. Commissioner Dan Bruce left the board during the discussion after announcing that his law firm represented the developer. Commissioner Mark Pusich was absent from the meeting.
Tony Carroll can be reached at email@example.com.